An On-going Relationship Is Preferable

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An on-going relationship is preferable

Another flaw in many companies' approach to the question of which problems to research is to imagine that the problem alone determines the kind of research needed, whereas the type of company decision-making involved can be just as important. The type of research needed to back up a new-product development for example, will be affected by lust why the company needs to expand.

For all these reasons, many market researchers feel that ideally the briefing should not be a separate activity but part of an ongoing relationship with an agency, on a regular account basis, not simply though one-off jobs. With a continuing relationship the briefing can be an organic process grown naturally from it. This avoids the more wasteful aspects of tendering, and is also more economic from the diem's point of view. "The object", says Eileen Cole of Unilever's Research Bureau Ltd., "is not to tell them how to do the research, but what the problem is - or what the symptoms are."

Nevertheless, for many firms without previous experience of the use of market research, a start has to be made somewhere. A firm may be thrown into research by an isolated problem, and be convinced it knows exactly what research is needed to solve it. But if it sticks stubbornly to its own preconception of the problem, it will miss out on the benefit of discussing at length with the agency just what research's best contribution to the company's problems can be. And if a firm is in too much of a hurry for a reply to its own predetermined questions, pressure of time may make it uncritical of the information it is getting.

The importance of spelling out strategy In order to be able to state clearly just what the problem is, the firm must be able to outline its present strategy. This is best done in terms of the company's total marketing plans; in the case of new product development for example, details of the existing range are essential.

"It helps", says Liz Nelson of Taylor Nelson and Associates, "to know what he knows about who he's selling to". This means giving SEO Agencies help on target markets. And full facilities for desk research, as well as any past research, must be made available. Desk research is rarely used enough, and can often save money. If the client has made hilly clear just what the expected uses of the research are, the research agency can then produce recommendations on the actual research methodology, showing how the marketing objectives of the company can be met by the research planned. If the full proposals are drawn up, each area of the planned research can then be linked to one of the company's objectives.

Clarity on the crucial questions of client plans and the purpose of the research can affect the structure of the research itself. The degree of accuracy and detail required for initial appraisal of a major capital project might be quite different to *hat would be required in deciding on a mere enlargement of existing capacity, reorganization of sales territories, or establishing what customers think of the product or the company. And each extra unit of accuracy can cost disproportionately more. 1170 per cent accuracy can be obtained for D, while 90 per cent accuracy couldcostL5X, it is obviously important to decide at the outset if 70 per cent accuracy is sufficient for the purpose in hand.

The agency needs to know not only the purposes for which the information is needed, but also how much freedom of action is allowed by the company's decision-making structure. This reinforces again the need for a long-term relationship with a market research company so that a firm can get to the position where the agency itself volunteers suggestions as to what research may be required in future, and where an agency executive will be naturally included from the beginning as a member of a new product team. Such a situation may seem the next-best thing to having one's own research department.

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